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Students applying for UK visas from Pakistan face new English language test | Immigration Matters

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Pakistani students seeking UK student visas have been singled out for a new language tests after border checks suggested that as many as 40 per cent of them had falsified their application forms.

A new Home Office ‘pilot scheme’, introduced amid fears that thousands of bogus applicants were getting student visas, has sharply increased the number of applications being rejected, The Telegraph reports.

Under previous pre-tier 4 immigration rules, applicants for student visas had their ability to speak English assessed mainly on the basis of their written application form.

Every year, around 10,000 visas are granted to students from Pakistan.

Following a sharp rise in the number of Pakistani applications, ministers ordered an increase in the number of applicants facing a “credibility test”, a face-to-face interview with British officials.

The Tier 4 points based student visa system, introduced under the previous Labour Government in order to streamline the process, has until recently been paper-based, so candidates only have to fill out application forms without any personal contact with officials.

About 20 per cent of candidates are already rejected on the basis of the paper forms, mostly with suspected poor English skills.

An increase in face-to-face interviews on visa candidates in Pakistan found an additional 20 per cent do not have the grasp of English they appeared to have on their application forms, raising the overall rejection rate to around 40 per cent.

Further preliminary tests appear to show that the sit-down interviews with an officer can weed out bogus applications from 38 per cent of students applying in Bangladesh, 27 per cent from Sri Lanka, 29 per cent from India and 28 per cent from Egypt.

The major cause of these rejections has been poor English, with a large number requiring an interpreter to get through the test.

Following the results, the Home Office will now demand more applicants are interviewed in these countries, with 100 per cent of candidates from Pakistan subject to the new strict tests.

A Government source said: “Britain is open for business to the best and the brightest. But our message to bogus students is clear. You will be found out and you will be stopped from coming.”

The revelation follows a deeply critical study by the National Audit Office last month, in which it was claimed that 50,000 students abused visa system. This study found a huge surge in students entering the country was largely fuelled by fake applications after the new points based visa system was introduced in 2009 by the Labour government.

It estimated the UK Border Agency probably let through 40,000 to 50,000 illegal students in this year, largely from India, Bangladesh and China. Most of these people have never been traced.

The number of illegal immigrants who pretended to be in education is more than ten times higher than the previous estimates.

Immigration officials took measures to tighten the system up by increasing checks on colleges and applicants, but the National Audit Office found its controls are still lacking. Source: The Telegraph.

Overseas students are paying millions in taxes to the UK goverments and are estimated to be worth £5 billion to the British economy.

Under the old student visa system, replaced in 2009 when the UK Border Agency’s flagship points based system (PBS) was launched, most students were interviewed or checked by a locally based Entry Clearance Officer (ECO) who had the power to decide whether or not the applicant should be granted entry clearance to the UK.

At the time ECO’s were accused of being ‘over enthusiastic’ or inconsistent with their refusals and thousands of decisions were overturned on appeal before immigration judges at the AIT (now known as the First Tier Tribunal).

UK Universities demanded more consistency and the government responded by stripping ECO’s of their powers when PBS was implemented in 2009. Much to their dismay, ECO’s were no longer able to refuse applicants, even where foul play was suspected or the student had previously been refused a visit or student visa.

Tier 4 student visas were granted on the basis of a simple points score, part of which came from a visa letter from a Tier 4 sponsoring educational provider and the remainder from proof of funds in a bank account, even if the money has only appeared a few days earlier and clearly came from a bank loan. Previously students would be refused if the money had suddenly appeared in their account or had been borrowed.

UK Visa postings were also reduced under a ‘hub and spoke’ idea whereby visa applications were processed in centralised units rather than in the country of origin. For instance, visas applied for by Pakistani students were processed by staff based in Dubai.

Following the launch of Tier 4, which was carried out in stages before systems were fully in place, the number of students arriving in the UK went up dramatically, however, the quality of student seemed to go down.

Colleges, which had to undergo a rigorous application process to obtain a Tier 4 sponsors licence, were increasingly finding that students were arriving in the UK with little or no money, despite having obtained a student visa having ‘proved’ available funds to pay for their course and living expenses.

Many of these Tier 4 students absconded without studying or paying the balance of fees owed upon arrival in the UK. Colleges duly reported these bogus students to the UK Border Agency.

Thousands of student debtors are being sued in the County Courts by colleges and universities for unpaid fees.

Where a student is successfully sued a County Court Judgment (CCJ) will be registered against them. The CCJ will stay on their credit file for up to six years and effectively ruin their credit rating.

Students who ignore CCJ’s may not realise that these court or ‘civil actions’ must be declared on most immigration application forms and could affect their chances of obtaining a visa renewal or further leave to remain in the UK.

With this new pilot project, the Home Office is going ‘back to basics’ by reintroducing checks by human beings in a locally based British Embassy where vital local knowledge comes into play.

The old student visa system had its faults and needed modernising, but the reforms obviously went too far too fast.

Ironically, government reforms to streamline the student system and help educational providers have had the opposite effect on private colleges. Due to high numbers of students arriving in the UK, the border agency has cracked down on private colleges and brought in a raft of changes to the student visa Immigration Rules making it extremely difficult to attract and recruit non-EU students. The UK economy is now losing billions of pounds in revenue as international students flock to Australia, New Zealand and Canada.

College owners may wish they could return to the ‘good old days’ when up to 50% of their prospective students had their visas rejected and the subsequent battles with ECO’s. At least they were not held directly responsible, as sponsors, for the students who obtained their visas and arrived in the UK.

See also:

50,000 students abused visa system says report

Canada’s Federal Skilled Workers Program to be streamlined to help businesses recruit much needed skilled tradespersons

UKBA confirm changes to the Immigration Rules which start on 6 April 2012

Immigration Rule changes to Tier 2 working visas

Employment restrictions for Bulgarians and Romanians extended until end of 2013

How Romanians and Bulgarians working illegally without Yellow Card or papers can legalise their status in the UK

Yellow or Blue Card Refused – Appeal or Reapply?

If you need any immigration advice or help with Sponsorship or Work Permits, Visa, ILR/Settlement, Citizenship, dependant visa or an appeal against a refusal please email: or visit

Overseas students and workers can qualify for a tax refund 

You could qualify for a tax refund if you are an overseas student, work permit holder, Tier 1, Yellow or Blue Card holder – in fact any visa type – even if you are no longer legal or even in the UK!

Majestic College offer special packages for EU students. They also have a number of employers looking for staff right now and are willing to employ Bulgarians and Romanians.

For more information call Joanna on 0208 207 1020 or email


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32 Responses to “Students applying for UK visas from Pakistan face new English language test”
Read them below or add one

  1. Sagheer Ahmed Khan (KHI) says :

    why waste your money with the cheap colleges?? & if u have no/less money then please do not waste your time to come in the UK , as try to create resources with in your country …as in Pakistan there are many of the UK institutions giving degrees & certificates taking exams in Pakistan’s like, ACCA, CIMA, CFA, ICAEW, CISA also in IT & Engi. as well and after that If you have healthy resources/money then come to study in UK and only in a GOVERNMENT FUNDED REGISTER INSTITUTE.

    Why strict rules only applied for PAK students?? this is only by the result that mostly pakistani students who have less money, hire a consultant, pay the 50% fee before VISA. And as soon as he arrived UK then limited working hours pay doesn’t meet his/her expenses to pay college fee… his bank statement provided at the time of VISA had borrowed funds.
    He only thinks that by working while study meet expenses but this is a FOOLISH dream as UK is an expensive country…..

    By the new tightening rules of UKBA, My message for my Pakistani students is that if you have money so try to make destinations to AUSTRALIA/CANADA … otherwise there is no restrictions to see dreams….

    Student Life is a memorable life …do not waste or make it harder for you by any of your wrong decisions…

  2. Hi, i want you tell me if me have not IELTS diploma so can i apply the Uk student visia on City and Guiled Diploma is it accecptable for Uk student visia, Thx

  3. Student visas are still open but become more difficult as ECO’s can make decisions on English language etc.

  4. mahira nisa says :

    Hi, my brother-in-law wants to apply for a student visa from Pakistan, have the visas been stopped? What does he have to do to apply and how can he apply?

  5. No easy way to any country, especially if you are very poor. Study there, get qualified, then look for jobs.

  6. Hi.
    dear i wish that I will go to UK for study…because we have verey pour…….
    pleas tell me easy way to go to UK….Thainks..

  7. ukba should make very tough policies to stop bogus students specially from pakistan,very one knows pakistanis student come uk only for job not for studies.and mostly pakistanis dont want come back pakistan after studies.and most of students try to spend 10 year and after that time they want to apply ILR.ukba should stop this rule for students and dont give Ilr to students,when a student apply visa,he r she says,,,i will come back after studeies but in reaity no one want to come back and live as an illegal immigarnts,do job cash in hand no tax paying and uses uk,s i am with ukba,s tough policies.

  8. hi,
    im from pakistan and want to know about the student policy of pakistani student in uk, is work allowed there with ACCA course or MBA and how much working hours in the week ?

  9. […] Students applying for UK visas from Pakistan face new English language test […]

  10. […] Students applying for UK visas from Pakistan face new English language test […]

  11. […] Students applying for UK visas from Pakistan face new English language test […]

  12. hafiz furqan says :

    My qualification master in commerce. but i want to get higher education in Europe. Any person who deal with me for Europe student visa at minimum cost. I pay the deal charges after the visa any person come and deal with me.thanks

  13. […] Students applying for UK visas from Pakistan face new English language test […]

  14. […] Students applying for UK visas from Pakistan face new English language test […]

  15. […] Students applying for UK visas from Pakistan face new English language test […]

  16. well it is really a bad situation. I have question in my mind what the students staying in uk on study basis will do? will they have to come back empty after wasting a lot of time and money…
    yes you guys are right Au and Canada are best option but there is racism for Pak students applying to Canada, visa ratio is too low Canadian embassy takes too much time almost 11 weeks for Pak students but only 3 weeks for Indian students….where should we go? As Pakistani we have to face a lot of problems…who is the responsible????

  17. Are you in the UK or back home? You should take professional advice – call 0208 905 1822 if you need help on an appeal.

  18. […] Students applying for UK visas from Pakistan face new English language test […]

  19. Hi.
    As i have been detaiend by ukba from airport ,the reason is my college has withdraw my cas when i was coming back to pakistan ,can i reaply for student visa

  20. You can research universities and colleges online and check the UK Border Agency website for the requirements. See also UK University Services which offers free guidance and placements.

  21. Usman Ch says :

    Hello !
    i am planing for Uk please guide is it best option or not ! guide me about the institutes (colleges) i need work permit as well to meet my expenses please sp me a favour thank u

  22. Nadeem Khan says :

    Student traffic is already towards Australia, Canada, New Zealand & USA. Students are not heading towards UK, very few want to go UK for study. Who will go towards UK form Pakistan when they make their policies tougher & tougher. Pakistani students contributing to the major revenue of the UK every year. Form IELTS Registration fee to 289 Visa Application Fee, you can imagine how much revenue of worth 5 billion students form Pakistan giving to UK . And whosoever student goes to UK, must take Pounds with him/her. And they are making restrictions on Pakistani students entrance. On the other hand, Australia has announced Stream Line visa policy which is rather flexible. I recommend students, as a consultant, to move towards Australia Where they have part time jobs conditions flexible and chances to settle their after the completion of their studies. The sole responsible is not only the student but also the private colleges which are selling CAS letters against 100 GBP. Where was UKBA when they allowed these colleges to work? UKBA has given losses to many students when they submitted their files, UKBA revoked the colleges. Students had to wait for 6 months. Even these revoked colleges did not pay back to those affected students. UKBA is always stresses on students “ABUSE” but that “ABUSE” is in their system.This poor system of UKBA has ruined the careers of many students in Pakistan, India, Bangladesh & in China. They are suffering from some kind of a neurotic disorder. I suggest to my students to study in Australia & New Zealand.

    Kind Regards

    Nadeem Khan

  23. Hi there…
    i’ve applied for tier 4 student visa in May 2011. I’ve already given my biometric details but did not get my visa or my passport back. It has been 11 months now. I’ve contacted UKBA many times by phone but nobody turned up and gave me a satisfying answer. What should i do now?

  24. Nouman Khan says :

    dr.Altaf , well said.

  25. Nouman Khan says :

    HI Muhammad Ali, Kelly is rite. You must contact as per advice. and you must also ask your consultant to help you. There are many colleges in the UK who are running privately but affiliated with Govt universities and working as their campuses. good luck

  26. Nouman Khan says :

    I believe UKBA must stop playing with international students. The have increased IELTS/ Pearson or many other tests and now they are doing another bull-shit. Students should plan to move to Australia , Malaysia or some other country and spit on UKBA policies.

  27. You need to change to a government owned college, which will mean changing your visa. The rules were changed last year. Many private colleges are closing because they can not offer students work along side their studies. Did your agent or the college not explain this to you before they took your money?
    Call 0208 905 1822 on Monday to arrnage to see an adviser who can help you.

  28. Muhammad ali says :

    dear i have a question to ask that i am new student here in london from pakistan but i am not allow to work so can you tell me how can i change my visa and get atleast 10hours work with my full time study.

  29. this news(face new english test) in not in UKBA website?

  30. Dr.Altaf says :

    In my opinion its only racism toward Pakistanies.
    what the point Base System is.Why only Pakistani students.

    All students should even go to China for higher studies but there is no need to waste your money in UK.
    Its really disgusting.

  31. A.Khan says :

    I thing Home office is just playing with students.If a student meet his/her English Language requirements by obtaining B1 etc then what does face-to-face interview mean?
    they have increased visa application fees (£ 290) How come they can refuse an application by just saying
    WE ARE NOT SATISFY with your level of english…..

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